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Politics & Government

2015 City Council Preview: Gilman, Kraus, Harris

This is the second in a three-part series looking ahead to the 2015 priorities with members of Pittsburgh City Council. Find part one here.

While some of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods continue to fight blight, other neighborhoods are growing rapidly. Councilmen Dan Gilman and Bruce Kraus said they’ve got their hands full managing that growth.

Councilman Dan Gilman

District 8: Shadyside, Squirrel Hill, Oakland, Point Breeze

Managing Growth: Gilman said managing a city that is growing is just as difficult as managing a city in decline, “but a lot more fun.” He said he want to develop complete streets that serve pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit users and drivers. He’ll also push businesses to focus on what he called “the three Ps.”

“They profit, but they also take care of planet and people," Gilman said. "That means you’re paying your workers well and you’re taking care of the neighborhood that you’re going into, and also that you’re thinking about things like storm water and green construction so we’re leaving a better planet than we inherited from our parents.”

Campaign Finance Reform: Gilman said he was very concerned about how much money was pumped into the 2013 mayoral race, which for the first time included an attack ad paid for by a political action committee. Gilman said he’ll scour the Pittsburgh code to make sure votes can’t be bought.

“I want to make sure that our law is a) legally sound, and b) closes as many loopholes as we can," he said. "That we get money out of politics and allow voters to make decisions based on the facts.”

Councilman Bruce Kraus

District 3: Oakland, South Side Flats, South Side Slopes, Allentown, Beltzhoover, Arlington Heights, Mt. Oliver, Knoxville, Oakcliffe, St. Clair

Managing Growth: Twenty years after college students began flocking from Oakland and Uptown to the relatively cheap housing on the South Side, city officials are still looking for ways to address the issues that arise from the combination of young people and alcohol. Kraus said one of the problems is that an increased police presence on the South Side flats pulls officers away from other neighborhoods. Kraus was instrumental in developing the city’s Responsible Hospitality Initiative, aimed at managing the nightlife economies on the South Side and elsewhere throughout the city.

“We are already looking at strategies for transportation and policing," he said. "There will be more to follow very early in January from the chief of police and from the administration and my office about what these initiatives are going to look like.”

Noise Issues: Kraus said he was surprised by just how complicated the city’s noise ordinance is, and he’s working to bring it up to date. Currently he’s trying to figure out the best way to measure noise so that the ordinance is evenly and fairly applied.

“We have looked at issues around HVAC ventilation systems, especially in commercial spaces, activity from nightlife and those kinds of issues, vehicular noise, whether it might be motorcycles, automobiles, construction noise, especially downtown,” he said.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris

District 1: Allegheny Center, Brighton Heights, Brightwood, East Allegheny, Fineview, Northview Heights, Observatory Hill, Spring Garden, Spring Hill, Summer Hill, Troy Hill, Washington’s Landing

Serving Constituents: Harris said she didn’t have any specific initiatives planned for 2015, but that she’ll continue to respond to constituents’ needs. In 2014 she championed bills requiring that pet owners’ keep their animals inside in very cold or very hot weather. She also sponsored legislation to double the reimbursement amount for homeowners who have to do sidewalk repairs due to damage from the roots of city-owned trees.

“They sort of come as things happen, or I hear of things in my district that need to be done, or something touches me,” she said.